Kaduna River or River Kaduna can be said to be as old as any human being could remember. The name River Kaduna came about in 1921 when the then British forces moved from Zungeru in the present day Niger State and came up to the northern part, and to the surprise of the soldiers, they sighted crocodiles at the banks of the river and for easy identification, the river was named Crocodile River by the British forces, which was later translated to “Kada” in Hausa language, which means crocodile and by extension “Kada river” and that is how River Kaduna came to be.
River Kaduna which flows through three states; Niger, Kaduna and Kogi, finally empties into the great River Niger and along its course supports communities
within its vicinity in areas of transportation, agriculture and fishery among others.
Like many other rivers, the Gbagyi community in the early days were said to always assemble at the banks of the river in area that is now known as Kamazo where they were said to have offered sacrifices to appease the gods of the river.
Similarly, in Kurmin Ilo in Niger State, it is an annual tradition for the Gbagyi community and their Nupe neighbours to always take sacrifice to the river before and after harvest.
However, is there anything mysterious about this river? This is a million naira question because to some, River Kaduna is just flowing water that passes through, while to others they believe that for peaceful co-existence and bumper harvest the gods of the river must always be appeased.
Certain incidents happened that support the two sides: in 1972, fifteen women were said to have been drowned in the river while trying to cross over to Hayi Angwar Rimi and in 1975 on the 3rd of March, five members of the Gambian troupe that came for the FESTAC ceremony met their waterloo when they went to swim in the river.
To many, the god may be said to be angry and that was why these unfortunate incidents happened but to others that was just mere accident.
Recently, three out of six kids that went to bath by the river bank in Hayan Danbushiya never returned alive, only their dead corpses were later found inside the river. As if that was not enough and just two weeks later, four family members who were trying to cross over from Hayi Maciji to Rafin Guza area were consumed when their canoe capsised.
But Malam Abdullahi Dauda, Sarkin Rafi of Rafin Guza felt there is nothing mysterious about the two incidents as he attributed carelessness and drug influence as responsible for the canoe capsise.
“We sat with our Village Head to draft a law which is in existence at the moment that a small canoe should not convey more than five passengers while the other canoe with engine should convey 15 passengers. But you will find people breaking the laws and go scot free. Days after the incidents, the people would have forgotten the sad incident which claimed lives only for them to go back to the same act.
“Our youths are careless and act under drug influence. This incident which claimed the lives of this family of four was the handiwork of the canoe peddler who went out of his way to carry overload of eight passengers instead of five. Again he was under drug influence. So you can not call that God’s doing but recklessness,” Dauda said.
Giving credence to this, the Magajin Ruwa of Hayan Danbushiya, Suleiman Abdullahi who spoke with Friday magazine said parents and siblings were the architects of misfortune that befall them.
“Tragic incidents such as this which claimed the lives of these three kids date back to about 40 years ago. No doubt about the fact that children do come to the river side to bath and also do some washing of clothes among many other things in the river.
“We do warn them but they pay deaf ears to our warnings. We know many things take place in the river that they don’t know but it’s unfortunate when you warn the people they will not listen. There are laws you just have to abide by as to the river. In the process of bathing in the river some drown in the river and don’t get away with it while others go scot free. We try to stop the children but they don’t heed to our instruction and advice. In fact, times were when we punished them and some parents will come quarrelling with us. So the parents and their children should be blamed for their misfortunes,” the Magajin ruwa said.
While talking about appeasing the gods, Abdullahi told Friday Magazine that their parents had carried out a lot of sacrifices to ensure that the river side is safe for people to go and even live close to it.
According to him, “Our parents did sacrifice for the river with items like millet, sugar and male cock. Around the river bank we have some stones we call ‘Rakunmi’; it’s a big stone. There is another one called ‘Goran Dutse’, ‘Sarkin Pawa’, so it is the area of Sarkin Pawa that the children enter and that area is powerful. No area in the river is as powerful as that area. And knowing full well that we will restrict them from the river side, they went and turn around through the other side of the river. And nobody saw them until after the incident had happened,” Abdullahi stated.
Whether the gods of River Kaduna are angry with the people of Kaduna or not cannot be answered directly but activities that go on around the river today are enough to provoke the gods and the people who benefit directly from the river.
Today the river which is usually known for producing fish of different kinds in the past has witnessed the fish disappearing on daily basis. The reason for this is not far fetched as many industries in Kaduna town transfer their wastes into the river, resulting in chemical pollution that is gradually killing the fish.
Study by Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research shows that unless something urgent is done to check the chemical pollution in River Kaduna, the fish and other living creature in the river will be extinct.
However, River Kaduna has another mystery that has not been solved and that is flooding that is associated with it. For some years now, properties worth billions of naira and lives have been lost to flood caused by the river. Areas like Kogi new extension, Angwan Rimi, Gobarau road, Nassarawa and Malali have been witnessing yearly devastation by flood.
However, traditionalists were called to appease the gods of the river, especially the ‘Iyemoja’ goddess who is said to be in charge of the ‘Ogunpa’ river.
Whether Kaduna River has mystery or not, the truth remains that the river, the creatures in it and the communities are not happy. The agricultural produce has fallen drastically. The fish are dying. The river is drying up and this calls for urgent and focused approach to salvage River Kaduna and one of the approaches suggested by marine researchers is dredging River Kaduna and putting it to judicious use. Whether government will yield to that call or not is a different ball game.

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